Sometime in the second half of Monday’s game, New Orleans guard Nate Frye disappeared into the locker room. When he came back to the end of the bench, he brought a trash can with him and held a towel over his mouth.
Frye was going to be physically sick. It may not have been related to his team’s play, but it would have been a fitting response.
IU’s 79-59 win against New Orleans was over by halftime. The second half was played mostly to see what the final score would be.
With just over six minutes to play in the first half, New Orleans guard Tevin Broyles connected on a 3-pointer to cut the IU lead to 26-22. By the time the Privateers scored again, seven minutes had gone by.
A 20-point IU run gave the Hoosiers a 24-point lead less than a minute into the first half. They never let the Privateers back within 17.
From the tipoff, New Orleans did all it could to slow the tempo of the game. The Privateers took their time offensively, often using more than 30 seconds of the shot clock in an attempt to keep the Hoosiers out of fast breaks.
The tactic worked, to an extent – New Orleans controlled possession for 22:39 and IU scored just six fast break points. The Hoosiers scored just 23 points in the game’s first 12 minutes before making their run.
“They did kind of hold the ball in the first half, but we just wanted to go out there with a defensive mindset,” junior guard Yogi Ferrell said. “We got a lot of stops in a row, which carried over to our offense, then we all of a sudden got up 20-plus.”
IU was held below its season average of 87 points per game, a product of attempting 10 fewer field goal attempts than its season average.
The Hoosiers managed to offset the lack of attempts by making the most of the shots they did take. Effective ball movement led to open shots, which led to IU shooting 55 percent from the field.
“We just wanted to get downhill drives, kicks to shooters,” Ferrell said. “If we didn’t have a shot, just drive over the top, just keep moving the defense. Eventually the defense will break down, and I feel like they did tonight. We got open shots.”
Ferrell scored a team-high 17 points. Freshman guard James Blackmon, Jr., shook off Saturday’s 2-for-12 shooting performance with 14 points.
Junior forward Hanner Mosquera-Perea continued his rapid ascent to consistency, recording 12 points and six rebounds. He also blocked four shots.
After an early-season performance where he often disappeared from games and box scores, Mosquera-Perea has averaged 10 points and 6.5 rebounds over his last four games.
“I just feel better with rebounding and blocking shots,” Mosquera-Perea said. “Just go for it.”
Monday’s contest was IU’s last against a bottom-feeder team this season. No future IU opponent is ranked below No. 178 by kenpom.com.
Next week, the Hoosiers will travel to New York City to finish their non-conference slate against Georgetown, then it’s Big Ten season.
IU Coach Tom Crean said his team still has a lot of learning to do before the schedule intensifies.
“We’re a long way from understanding yet how to play a full 40-minute game, with a lead or the comeback situation,” Crean said. “We’ve made strides.
“It’s all part of a big ol’ process that you can never get away from, trying to make sure they understand how important each and every day is to that process.”